Review of “Blair Witch”

James (James Allen McCune) believes some recently uploaded video to YouTube may show his sister Heather who disappeared while during an investigation in the legend of Blair Witch. The video shows a brief glimpse of a woman’s reflection in a mirror as she runs through an old, dilapidated house. James plans on visiting the person that uploaded the video and searching for his sister. Coming along is a film student named Lisa (Callie Hernandez) who will make a documentary of the search for a school project. She is bring various small video recorders including ones that are worn like a Bluetooth earpiece so it records whatever the wearer looks at. James’ friends Peter and Ashley (Brandon Scott and Corbin Reid) are coming along as well. The group heads to Burkittsville, Maryland to meet with Lane (Wes Robinson), who uploaded the video, and his girlfriend Talia (Valorie Curry). Lane, something of an expert on the history of the area including the Blair Witch, agrees to show them where he found the tape if James and the others let him and Talia tag along. Reluctantly the group agrees. While walking through the woods, Lane talks about the various legends and tragic events that are supposed to have occurred in the area. Peter thinks it’s all silly and doesn’t mind saying so. Walking across a river, Ashley cuts the bottom of her foot. James, an EMT, treats her wound and they continue. Setting up camp for the night, the group is terrorized by loud noises including what sounds like a giant tree falling. The next day, they find strange stick figures made from twigs and twine hanging from the trees. The four friends are overwhelmed and decide to head back to their car and go home but Lane and Talia are reluctant. As they walk through the woods, Lisa notices a ball of twine like that used to make the stick figures in Lane’s backpack. She also notices the camera Lane is using to shoot his own footage is similar to the one used by the original Blair Witch investigators. The four accuse Lane and Talia of faking the video and putting up the stick figures to try and swindle them in some way. Lane admits to putting up the stick figures but swears he only wanted to get the group to come and see the strange goings-on in the woods. Lane and Talia are forced to separate from the rest as punishment. After walking for hours, the four friends wind up back at the original campsite despite using GPS devices to guide them to the cars. Ashley’s cut foot has become infected and causing her pain so the group decides to camp for the night and head out the next day; but will they survive another night in the woods.

When “The Blair Witch Project” first came out in 1999, efforts by the film company to market the movie as documenting actual events led some viewers to think what they were watching was real. Knowing the culture of conspiracy theorists that seems to thrive at this time, there are probably some who still believe it. I doubt anyone seeing “Blair Witch” will fall for the lame shaky camera and tepid scares as something that would actually frighten someone even if they really experienced it. As an audience member, I felt safe as a kitten.

There’s very little that’s good about “Blair Witch.” I went into the film hoping it might have the same kind of exhilarating experience as those that saw the original film in 1999. Sadly, the movie left me feeling like it was a rehash of the worst parts of “found footage” films that are quickly becoming painful to watch.

“Blair Witch” gives us largely unlikable characters, tells us very little about them (other than James and his connection to the first film) then sets them off on an adventure we know is doomed to failure and tragedy. While the audience knows no one in the movie will have a happy ending, it would have been nice if the filmmakers had at least tried to surprise us with amped up levels of tension and gore. Instead, we are treated to lots of loud thumps in the woods, screeching walkie-talkies, several minutes of leaves and branches flashing through the beam of a flashlight as various characters run away (or toward) something scary, and occasionally catching a glimpse of something that may or may not be trying to kill them. Anyone that’s seen “Paranormal Activity” or “Insidious” or any other significantly better horror movie will find “Blair Witch” to be a disappointing and rather boring effort.

“Blair Witch” is rated R for terror, some disturbing images and language. As stated earlier, there is precious little in the way of terror. The disturbing images are infrequent and consist of a character looking like they have been broken in half and a wound that oozes lots of what appears to be pus. Foul language is scattered but they do drop the “F-Bomb” a couple of times.

“Blair Witch” is not terribly scary. There are only a couple of minor jump scares and those come after plodding through a great deal of shaky camera footage that may induce motion sickness in anyone susceptible to that ailment. The audience must also deal with a group of mostly annoying people that aren’t given more than thumbnail-sketch personalities. “The Blair Witch Project” might be the granddaddy of found-footage horror movies but “Blair Witch” is the red-headed bastard stepchild at the family reunion.

“Blair Witch” gets one star out of five.

This week, a Western remake and an animated film about where babies come from are hoping you throw your hard-earned money at them. I’ll see and review at least one of the following:

The Magnificent Seven—

Storks—

Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send email to stanthemovieman@comcast.net.

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